My UK Year List - 2014

  • 117-118) GREAT WHITE EGRET and LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Mary's Lake, Earls Barton GP, 9 January
  • 116) Barnacle Goose, Emberton Park, 9 January
  • 114-115) SMEW and Cetti's Warbler at Great Hardmead Lake, Amwell, 7 January
  • 113) Reed Bunting, Tyttenhanger, 7 January
  • 112) Tree Sparrow (32 birds), Tyttenhanger, 7 January
  • 111) Sparrowhawk, West Hyde, 7 January
  • 110) Mandarin Duck, Burnham Beeches NNR, 7 January
  • 100-109) Curlew, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Common Shelduck, Kittiwake and Mediterranean Gull at Church Norton, 6 January
  • 99) RUDDY SHELDUCK, Sidlesham Ferry, 6 January
  • 96-98) Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone and Rock Pipit in Shoreham Harbour
  • 95) Red-breasted Merganser, Widewater, 6 January
  • 94) GREY PHALAROPE, Hove Lagoon, 6 January
  • 93) Grey Partridge, Broom, 5 January
  • 92) Goosander, Woburn Lakes, 5 January
  • 91) Skylark, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 90) Yellowhammer, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 89) Corn Bunting, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 88) Water Pipit, Wilstone, 5 January
  • 87) SABINE'S GULL, Weston Turville, 5 January
  • 86) Common Scoter, Brogborough, 4 January
  • 85) GREAT NORTHERN DIVER, Stewartby Lake, 4 January
  • 84) Red-legged Partridge, Hatch, 4 January
  • 83) Common Kestrel, Langford, 4 January
  • 82) GLOSSY IBIS, Frensham, 4 January
  • 81) Goldcrest, Frensham, 4 January
  • 80) Green Sandpiper, Lynsters, 3 January
  • 79) Stock Dove, Lynster's, 3 January
  • 78) Egyptian Goose, Lynsters Farm, 3 January
  • 77) Common Chiffchaff, Stockers Lake
  • 76) SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF, Stockers Lake
  • 75) Siskin, Stockers Lake
  • 74) Dunnock, Stockers Lake
  • 73) Ring-necked Parakeet, Stockers Lake
  • 72) Lesser Redpoll, Stockers Lake
  • 71) Coal Tit, Chaffinch House
  • 40-70: Nuthatch, Greylag Goose, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Common Redshank, Common Snipe, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, LITTLE STINT, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Wagtail, Goldeneye, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Marsh Tit, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Jay, Red-crested Pochard, Wren, Collared Dove (all at Tring Reservoirs), Brambling (Ivinghoe), Herring & Great Black-backed Gull, CATTLE EGRET (Briarhill Farm, Calvert) & Green Woodpecker
  • 1-39 all local, Chess River Valley & Shardeloes Estate: 1 January 2014: Chaffinch, Common Starling, Woodpigeon, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Common Magpie, Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, Common Buzzard, Canada Goose, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Pochard, House Sparrow, Common Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Pheasant, Gadwall, Kingfisher, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Little Grebe, Common Gull, Red Kite, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, WOODCOCK, Treecreeper, Greenfinch and Water Rail

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Year Listing in the UK

Lee Evans has been Year-listing in the UK since 1977 and has achieved annual totals of over 300 species ever since. Although he has recorded in excess of 360 species on some nine occasions, his record stands at 386 species - achieved in 1996. Adrian Webb in Year 2000 recorded at least 378 species, making him by far the highest-listing individual to compare with Lee. In terms of Life Listing, Lee has recorded 577 species in Britain and Ireland and 853 species in the wider Western Palearctic region.

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Emerald Isle beckons

Juvenile Thayer's Gull, Ross Beach, Cleggan, County Galway, January-February 2010 (location map; first two images, Sean Crnin; lower four images Dermot Breen)


Chris Heard, Gary Bagnell, John Lees and I set forth from Stanstead Airport for Ireland at 0915 hours, after being delayed for over an hour by dense fog. We had paid just £71 for return flights.

Following a very hard landing by our East European pilot, our RyanAir flight eventually touched down at Knock Airport (Ireland's West Airport), just 5 kms south of Charlestown, at 1030. We quickly transferred to our Hertz rental car, a 1.0 litre Volkswagon Fox.

The weather on out arrival was glorious, with clear blue skies, virtually no wind and a temperature of just 3 degrees Celcius.

We made our way west into County Galway, following the R375 in to Swinford, where 2 Mute Swans were noted on roadside lochans and Rook, Jackdaw and Common Magpie were fairly commonplace.

Heading west on the N5 to Castlebar, provided me with my first HOODED CROWS of 2010 (162), with a further 3 Mute Swans at Moher Lough, south of Liscarney.


Thanks to Dermot Breen and others, finding our way from Moyard and the N59 north of Clifden to Ross Beach, 5 kms east of Cleggan, was fairly straightforward (turn right at the east end of Ballynakill Lough towards the 'Judo Club' and continue on that narrow lane, past the beach on the right, for 2 kms to the end of the road).

Ross Beach saw the arrival of five car loads of birders early afternoon, including Jim & Debs Lawrence, Chris Wilkinson and his partner, three Danish birders including one of the Netfugl administrators and Lee Gregory, Chris Lansdell, Will Soar and Craig Holden.

Jim Lawrence had seen the juvenile THAYER'S GULL prior to our arrival, whilst it had been feeding on the six fish cages 400 yards offshore. We set the 'scopes up and searched but there was no sign of it.

A first-winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL was showing very well with the 300 or so Black-headed Gulls just off of the inlet stream, along with a single PALE-BELLIED BRENT GOOSE and several European Shags. Scanning the harbour resulted in the finding of at least 7 GREAT NORTHERN DIVERS and 17 BLACK GUILLEMOTS (163), several of which had already acquired breeding plumage.

An odd white-winged gull which flew from a rocky islet to the far fish cages on the north side of the water may have been a dark juvenile ICELAND GULL.

The juvenile THAYER'S GULL flew in from the east, close along the shore, at 1310 hours and responded to the bread that JL was throwing out. It afforded spectacular views at just 35 yards range as it joined in the noisy melee of gulls attracted to the food. Jim was able to fire off shot after shot during the eight minutes it flew around and managed to obtain some excellent flight images. Once all of the bread was devoured, the THAYER'S GULL joined other birds and roosted just west of the stream - again, providing us with ample opportunities of study.

At rest, the bird resembled Iceland Gull in structure and stance, with the beautiful 'velvety' wash extending from the throat to the vent and encroaching on to the flanks, giving it a somewhat North American Herring Gull feel to it. The head, hindneck and upper mantle were also rather brown, with darker masking in front of the eye and on the ear-coverts. The undertail-coverts and lower vent were barred, with the upper tail correspondingly darker brown and paler biscuit towards the tips.

The scapulars and tertials were contrastingly dark muddy-brown and edged whitish, with a noticeable dark brown trailing edge in flight and no significant covert bar. The outer hand of the wing was very dark blackish-brown, with the whiter inner primaries giving the characteristic 'venetian-blind' appearance of this species. In flight, the underwing was quite dusky, and the flight feathers were all neatly fringed pale cream forming distinct pale chevrons at the tips. The rump was heavily dark and barred

The bill was rather slight, predominantly black but with a hint of a dark reddish colouring to the base, whilst the long legs were pink. The iris was dark brown.

The bird remained on view for about 28 minutes before flying out into the harbour and landing out of view on one of the six offshore fish cages.


Driving down towards Galway City mid-afternoon saw a drastic deterioation in weather conditions, with an overwhelming blanket of thick fog setting in. In fact, by the time we reached Nimmo's, visibility was down to just 45 yards. As a result, our late afternoon visit was seriously curtailed, and consequently there was little chance of locating the wintering Forster's or Sandwich Terns.

A total of 7 feeding Bar-tailed Godwits were amongst the rocky pools west of the causeway, with Rock Pipit and Eurasian Wigeon noted also, and at Nimmo's Pier slipway, a single adult RING-BILLED GULL was showing very well, a single adult Scandinavian Herring Gull, 25 Common Gulls, 19 Mute Swans and 8 Turnstones.

As dark befell Galway, we entered the Italian Ristorante Da Roberta Pizzeria in Upper Salthill, which was simply superb.....

The next two and a half hours were spent driving north, Donegal Old Town being reached just after 2200 hours. It was here that we spent the night.

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